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vigilante behavior. as the stand-your-ground law stands now, it acts as a sword and a shield. it acts as a sword because it allows somebody to be an initial aggressor, and it acts as a shield because it allows them to claim themselves under the cloak of victimhood after they begin a confrontation. >> so should george zimmerman be protected by the stand-your-ground law in this case? >> absolutely not. george zimmerman was the initial aggressor. he found trayvon martin. he pursued him. trayvon martin tried to escape from george zimmerman. and the evidence has been very clear from the beginning, ed. trayvon martin had a pack of skittles and george zimmerman had a 9 millimeter. that's all the evidence we need in the world. >> is trayvon's death part of the big national gun debate? >> trayvon martin death, i feel like the shot that we heard on february 26th, 2012 was a shot that was heard around the world. and it sparked the international debit on gun violence, but when we heard the shots in aurora, when we heard the shots in newtown, when we heard the shot
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that killed jordan davis and most recently the shot that killed hadiya pendleton, those are the shots that caught the attention of president barack obama, who recently introduced some executive and legislative changes that he wants to see before the congress. >> is it going to be hard to get a conviction? >> i don't think that it's going to be hard to get a conviction. as i said, we have two very critical pieces of evidence. we have an unarmed teenager and a man who had a gun. trayvon martin ended up dead. i think that's going to be very clear to the jury. >> how emotional do you think this is going to be? >> i think it's going to be an emotional time for the parents. tracy martin said something earlier today that really stuck with me. what tracy said is to the nation this is a story. and to us this is the grief that we deal with every day, the loss of our son. >> jasmine rand, thanks for your time tonight on "the ed show." thank you very much. >> thank you for having me. >> your trial is expected to start on june 10th. that is "the ed show" tonight. i'm ed schultz. "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. good evening, rachel. good evening, ed, and thank you. thanks to you at home for joining us this hour from washington, d.c.
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there is a ton going on here right now. there is a ton going on in politics in general right now, even in politics outside of washington, d.c. i want to start tonight by showing you something that just happened in alaska. one house of the state legislature there has just passed a law that threatens to arrest law enforcement officers if they try to enforce federal laws about guns in alaska. the law says that any guns or ammo possessed by alaskans are exempt from federal laws. so the state of alaska does not recognize the authority of the united states of america and will arrest that country's agents if they try to enforce that country's laws. that just passed in alaska in the republican-dominated house there, despite passionate arguments against it like this one from democratic state rep andy josephson. watch. >> mr. speaker, we decided in 1955 to submit a state constitution. we joined the team.
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our star is on the flag. i see it there. we didn't have to do that. we demanded it. we implored our 48 sisters, because hawaii wasn't admitted yet, our 48 brothers and sisters, let us join this great team. and, you know, i care greatly about my state. but i'm very proud to be an american. very proud. and for the courts say an administration law is constitutional, it is. i think this is successionist talk. that's what i think it is. >> "successionist talk," democratic state rep andy josephson.
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that's the kind of existential politics alaskans are up to right now. also right now, in arkansas today the democratic governor of arkansas mike beebe decided to ban an abortion ban that dominated both chambers in his state. lsd in indiana today, the senate there passed a new forced vaginal ultrasound bill. this had been the bill where they were going to force indiana women to have two vaginal ultrasounds at the order of the state government, but they pared it down to just one forced ultrasound and passed it today. it's part of a larger bill to try to force indiana abortion clinics to close all together, or to stop them from being able to provide abortion services. next door to indiana in illinois, we just had polls close an hour ago. in the first congressional election since the presidential, this is a heavily democratic district in illinois that used to be represented by jesse jackson jr. until he resigned. today in the primary to replace him, gun reform played a huge role in the race.
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we're going to have results and whatever explanation we have got about those results coming up on the show this hour. and as that illinois congressional election becomes sort of a test case for the democratic party's newfound muscularity and confidence on the issue of gun policy, well, today in washington, vice president biden kept up his very high profile schedule on this issue. the vice president taking this meeting today with a group of really not the usual suspects on the gun issue. and also today, one key legislator announced a really important decision about what is going to happen now on the gun issue. we're going to be getting to that. alaska, don't wet your pants. something is going to happen on guns. try to hold it together. >> furthermore today in washington, the collapse of one of the weirdest d.c. republican tantrums in this era in which we have a lot of weird d.c. republican tantrums as president obama's nominee for defense secretary finally got confirmed after a long weird delay that nobody understands. and we will have more ahead on the show this hour as well.
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and also today pennsylvania, republicans trying to move ahead with the scheme to rig that state's electoral votes. other states flirted with this and gave up in the face of broad criticism after the election, but pennsylvania republicans are pressing ahead. and in conceivably related news, pennsylvania's deeply unpopular governor tom corbett apparently just got a new democratic challenger in the form of congresswoman allyson schwartz. and the united states supreme court is hearing a challenge to the voting rights act tomorrow. and republicans are threatening john brennan's nomination to run the cia now as well. and 75 republican bold-faced names, including four former governors and a whole bunch of republicans who never said they were for gay rights before all just signed a brief to the supreme court telling the court to side with same-sex marriage rights. republicans. and chris christie just became the eighth republican governor previously wanted nothing to do with obama care. and there are talks with iran
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over its nuclear program that have just gotten underway today in kazakhstan. and, and, and, and, and. it's that kind of day. this is that kind of news cycle. there is that much going on. this is a ton going on right now in politics. but in this city you might never know it. because the thing that is happening here that is dominating everything else, that is all but eclipsing all those other significant things going on in the country which might need some attention, hey, alaska is kind of succeeding, the thing that d.c. is spending all its time on and that the entire federal government has been wrenched around into dealing with is none of the real crises or real fights or real opportunities for progress in american politics right now. with all of that going on what washington is smothered by right now is this, the freaking sequester which congress and the white house agreed to which they almost unanimously agree would be a terrible thing to inflict
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on the country, and which they could just decide not to do simply by repealing it. but apparently they're not going to repeal it. the white house taking every opportunity now to spell out the harm that this thing is going to do to the country. they have put out fact sheets on the hundreds of thousands of jobs expected to be lost with workers in every state. the tsa is warning that air travel is going to become a nightmare. the president today at a shipyard in newport news talking about the devastating expected effect, particularly on areas that are heavily dependent on the military. the republican speaker of the house today, for his part, demanding that the senate fix it, that they get off their starts with "a," rhymes with bass and do something to stop this thing, because he is not going to. looks like it's going to happen, even though this is a purely voluntary thing because why not inflict wanton damage on the country and throw millions of people out of work. why not? the animating principle, the animating fear or assertion or argument behind this roundhouse
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punch to our own face is supposedly the deficit, right? there is so much worry about the out-of-control spiraling deficit that we must punch ourselves in the face like this. these cuts won't really make a difference in the deficit. but by agreeing to lose this gym of chicken and go flying off this cliff, punching ourselves in the face all the way down, we will somehow show symbolic commitment or something to turn around our out-of-control deficit. that i guess is the idea. here i guess is the deficit. here is what it was when barack obama took office. in 2009, in the midst of the worst economic free fall since the great depression. then here is the deficit in 2010. and here it is for the next year, and here it is for last year. yep. and here is the track for this year. yeah, see how it's spiraling out of control? see how much it's growing? higher and higher all the time. yeah, no. actually, down is not up. night is not day, and the deficit is getting smaller. it's dropped by hundreds of
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billions of dollars during barack obama's presidency. we are currently experiencing the fastest deficit reduction in several generations, and nobody knows it. we're in the midst of a major national crisis, self-imposed, brought on by fear and loathing and worry and outrage over the supposed state of the deficit, and 90% of the country is wrong about what the state of the deficit is. i'm not saying 90% as a made-up rounded hyperbolic number. that's the actual number. look. bloomberg news just polled on this. is it your sense this year that the deficit is getting bigger or getting smaller or staying about the same as last year? 62% of americans say the deficit is getting bigger. 28% of americans say the deficit is staying about the same. yeah, those 62 plus 28, that's 90% of the country that gives a wrong answer to that question. so how many americans know the right answer? a proportion of the american public who knows the correct answer, which is that the deficit is getting smaller is
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6%. total. if we are supposedly so worried about this problem that we are willing to inflict pretty big economic pain on the country starting on friday in order to strike a symbolic pose of seriousness in addressing this awful problem, wouldn't you think that more than 6% of people in the country should be able to correctly identify what the problem is? joining us now is congresswoman marcy kaptur, democrat of ohio and jared bernstein, a former economic policy adviser to vice president joe biden. he is also a cnbc and msnbc contributor. thank you both so much for being here. i'm sorry i made you sit through the alaska gun rights thing. >> it's fascinating. >> there is a lot going on that we aren't working on because we're working on this problem that we created for ourselves. jared, let me start with you. how it is only 6% of americans understand what is true about the deficit right now? >> i think it has to do a lot with all the noise that is
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trying to point there in the other direction. there are a lot of people in this town whose policy agenda, whose ideology really depends on everyone's hair being on fire about the budget deficit. because their ultimate goal is to cut government, to slash government, to get rid of social insurance. and if people actually are aware of the kind of numbers you just showed, the fact that the deficit has fallen by half as a share of gdp. they say we have a spending problem. i just looked at the numbers the other day. between 2009 and 2012, spending was up 0.6%. >> it's out of control, spiraling out of control. >> it's a very idealogically motivated argument. again, if you're freaked out about the budget deficit, you want to slash, burn, sequester, cliff all the rest of it. >> congresswoman kaptur, as somebody who is in the middle of this thing, first of all, do you agree that is what is driving the misperception of the underlying factors here? and secondly, do you think anything can be done to avert
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this problem before friday? >> i think in terms of political strategy on the part of the republicans who are being so obstinate and uncompromising, they've managed to move the debate from jobs to sequester. i'm not sure all members of congress could define sequester. it means automatic cuts with no thought. the meat ax just falls wherever. but they've managed to shift to a different turf, and therefore we're not arguing about how do we create more jobs in this country? because with a 7.8 unemployment rate, you're not going to balance the budget. we have to cut that by half. jared tried so hard in his own career and service to the people of our country to do that. so they've shifted the debate. and we're on their turf. we need to be talking about economic growth and how what they're proposing is actually going to cause more unemployment. do you know that just in the defense area, and i'm the first democratic woman in history to serve on defense appropriations,
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if you can believe that, and it's 2013, we will likely see over 734,000 civilian defense department employees furloughed with a 20% pay cut over the next 22 days. and -- >> that's immediate. >> that's immediate. >> three-quarters of a million people over the next few weeks. >> that's right. they are going to cut become on gas purchases, purchases of clothing for their children, food. this goes directly to the bottom line of growth in this economy, and it's going to be a damper on that growth. >> jared, from an economic perspective, the prescriptions that we have heard like congresswoman kaptur just explained and like the white house has been explaining about, what is going to happen if this goes through, that kind of rapid not paying too much attention to details contraction that we will see starting friday if this happens, would it have a significant negative impact? >> not only would it, but it already. remember, the sequester is fiscal contraction on top of fiscal contraction. the expiration of the holiday payroll tax has taken $100
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billion out of americans this year. i've looked at estimates of economists across the board, nonpartisans who argue that put it all together, add the sequester on top of it, and you're talking about growth that is about a percent and a half slower this year than it would be otherwise. let me read you a quick quote from somebody today up on capitol hill. "moreover, besides having adverse effects on jobs and incomes, a slower recovery would lead to less actual deficit reduction in the short-run." now that's not karl marx or chairman mao. that's ben bernanke. he is saying not only does slower growth hurt us in the way the congresswoman is mentioned, growth in jobs, it's counterproductive if your goal is truly deficit reduction. >> so the deficit is getting smaller. we're setting our hair on fire about the deficit as if it's getting larger. and in order to show the seriousness of how on fire our hair is, we're going the make the deficit problem worse. >> exactly. >> woo-hoo! >> and we're going to put a damper on growth. we're going to put more people
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out of work. and there will be more suffering where there needs to be recovery. >> what do you see as the way out of this? in congress since the republicans won control of the house and were sworn in 2011, we've had these repeated trips to the brink, whether it's the debt ceiling fights or the government shutdown fights and now this sequester fight. all of them coming to the 11th hour that weren't imposed from the country without, but were designed crises. how do we get out of it? >> manufactured crises. well, we get out of it politically when people go to the polls in 2014, we need a democratic house. but what has happened is that gerrymandering in a state like ohio has been so severe that a state that voted 50/50, half for president obama, half for governor romney actually is only sending 4 out of 16 members on the democratic side of the aisle. so it's 25%. we could have an additional four
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members just from ohio that would be more representative of how -- what our population actually is. but we don't have a representative house because of the gerrymandering that happened. >> does the democratic party have a plan to fix that? i mean, the republicans are very overt and very proud of how they have been able to use redistricting, use gerrymandering to get more seats than they were due by the number of votes that they have. they brag about it. they say this is one of their great successes of the last election cycle. do the democrats have a plan to counter it? >> well, i tell you, chairwoman debbie wasserman schultz has talked about this. she has talked about what we need to do to prepare for the future. and i know that those who are paying close attention are very aware of how unfairly representative the house currently is. >> in terms of what is about to happen and what we are on the self-imposed precipice of, jared, how -- when you said that damage has already been done and that more damage is coming. >> right. >> how much of it is reversible? and what would be the best way to reverse it? >> well, first of all, it would be great if policymakers would
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at least take a do no harm, a hippocratic oath. if i were pulling levers, i would implement job measures of the type the president introduced in the jobs act, the kind that congresswoman kaptur is constantly banging up there. i don't think that's very realistic right now. so my first argument could be to do no harm. just put these kinds of spending cuts off until the economy is firing on all cylinders again. now let me be precise. i'm not implying that this fiscal drag that we have talked about, sequester, the other cuts we've mentioned, it's going to throw the economy into a recession. but too often the discussion is we're in recession bad, or we're not in recession good. no. the fact that growth is already slow and it's going to be slower means that the unemployment rate is going to be stuck where it is. the congresswoman said we're talking about the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.
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when the gdp starts growing below 2%, which is what will happen if all this stuff goes through and sticks, we're not going to be growing fast enough to absorb new people coming into the job market, to provide opportunities for the currently unemployed. so it's this kind of persistent slog that just eats away at families' living standards. >> it's not just stop digging. i really feel like in a way it's stop punching yourself in the face. >> exactly. >> it's self-inflict and wanton and makes no mathematical seasons. >> marcy kaptur and jared bernstein, thank you both so much for being here. >> thank you. republicans in the u.s. senate certainly proved a point by delaying chuck hagel's confirmation as defense secretary. honestly, a point was proven. i don't think it was the point they thought they were making, but they proved it. we will try to explic the unexplicable.
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okay. admit it. admit it that you have missed this. i know i have. it's decision 2013. it is election night once again. today was the first election for federal office in this country since the presidential election. polls closed in illinois just about an hour ago in the race to replace democratic congressman jesse jackson jr. who resigned his seat late last year. the district includes parts of chicago. it's one of the bluest of the blue congressional districts in the whole country. jesse jackson jr. carried that district by nearly 70 points in 2010; by about 80 points in 2008. for that reason, because this district is so reliably blue year after year, this is one of those weird election days where
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even though it's just a primary to decide who the nominee is going to be. whoever wins this democratic primary tonight is expected to almost certainly be the next member of congress from illinois. heading into election day, heading into today, this look to be a three-way race between debbie halvorson, former state lawmaker robin kelly, and chicago alderman anthony beale. there are 14 democrats running, but it looked to be coming down to these three. as a former member of congress herself, debbie halvorson at the outset appeared to be the odds on favorite, but that was before this happened. a slew of advertising from new york city mayor michael bloomberg's pac all on the issue of guns. these ads have absolutely blanketed the district. they are the only tv ads running in the race. and the ads go after debbie halvorson for having an "a" rating from the nra. that may have been an asset in previous elections, but no longer. this is the first federal election since the newtown
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school shooting. chicago is a city that has had real problems with gun violence. and the confluence of those factors have made this kind of an interesting test case. what maybe should have been a cakewalk for debbie halvorson, who had the highest name recognition in the case ended up turning into a dogfight, at least heading into today's voting from what we could tell from the polling. election officials today reported relatively low turnout at the polls, probably the result of this being a special election primary in an offyear. special elections in general tend to generate less voter interest. it also could have been the result of this. this is how it looked today in chicago. what do you like better? rain, sleet, snow? chicago had a good offering of all three today. so again the turnout today was reported to be low. but at this hour we can report a result in this race. with 67% of precincts now reporting, the associated press has declared former state lawmaker robin kelly the winner tonight. former democratic congresswoman debbie halvorson has conceded.
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this could have national implications. robin kelly made her support for gun reform the centerpiece of her campaign. she was running against somebody who had long touted her "a" rating from the nra. and the "a" rating from the nra lost and the "f" rating won. the "f" rating from the nra from the michael bloomberg gun reform superpac and millions of dollars worth of ads run against debbie halvorson on the same grounds. again, robin kelly will move on to the general election on april 9th in the district that was recently held by jesse jackson jr. but because of the partisan breakdown of this district, she is expected to become the nation's newest member of congress. this is a fascinating result.
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for the interview on tonight's show, we are doing
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something that we really never do. we have three people here tonight pour the interview. and when i introduce them, you will know why. i'm going to let that introduction tell the story. i'm not going to get ahead of myself. but suffice to say the interview tonight is exclusive. it is not at all our usual way of doing things, and it's kind of a big deal for us on this show. that's coming up in just a couple of minutes. so trusted... so clinically proven dermatologists recommend it twice as much as any other brand? neutrogena®. recommended by dermatologists 2 times more than any other brand. now that's beautiful. neutrogena®. ♪
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i've really been stunned by the genuine outpouring of affection for this man. people have great respect for the decision that he has made, this historic decision to abdicate the papacy. and while people have many mixed feelings about the church itself and all its problems, what you find when you talk to people in
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that square is great admiration for what he has done, chris. >> and let me ask you about what we're expecting today. what are we going to see? the wednesday audience is something that happens every week although usually it is indoors. what happens here for people who don't know exactly what a papal audience is. >> well, you were one when you came over to rome a couple of weeks ago. usually it happens in the paul vi auditorium during the winter. it's outside. now it's been moved outside to accommodate the large crowds that are there. we'll see the popemobile move through st. peter's square so everyone can get a glimpse of the pope. i understand it's going to make two laps. and then the pope will go up on a stage set on top of the steps. there he will deliver his address in italian. afterwards, he will speak in several major languages. usually, he acknowledges some groups that are there.
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what is going to be different today is typically in a papal audience, there are people who come up and meet the pope and kiss his ring. that is not going to happen today because there have simply been too many requests today, chris. >> ann thompson, who will continue to be at the vatican for us throughout this coverage. ann, thank you. i want to bring in our panel, who will be joining us the next hour and a half. father robert barron. in rome, liz lev, an expert at duquesne and nbc news analyst. george is the nbc news vatican analyst and the author of the book, evangelical catholicism. good to have all of you. i guess the first question is this is the last awudience. we've never had a moment like this when the pope knew he was going to address his flock. what do you expect him to say?
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>> he'll probably sum up what his pontificate has made. i'm moved by the pictures of the extraordinary affection for benedict xvi, and i think he'll return it to the crowd and thank them. i think he'll acknowledge the great universality of the church. i would expect there to be strong spiritual words from this man today. >> people who have been around the pope the last several days describing his manner as serene. as someone who saw him on ash wednesday, both in audience in the morning and the ash wednesday mass in the evening, that's exactly how he looked to me. he's not someone who wants a lot of attention or prone to flashy good-byes, but do you think we'll see some emotion from this pope today? >> chris, pope benedict's serenity comes from a mature mind, well formed spirit, a man
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of real spiritual discipline, great student of the bible. on his day of resignation, he said jesus christ is the real leader of the church, the true ruler of the church. i suspect he'll say something of that today. in addition to what is an energetic atmosphere, an unsettled atmosphere. the church is moving into uncharted waters beginning at 8:00 tomorrow night. and while it's great to see this enormous catholic vitality today, the flip side of that are the problems that have come to the world's attention over the past week. i think the pope wants to give words of encouragement, words of
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challenge, as we move into what could be a very difficult although interesting period in catholic history. >> let me ask you, liz, as someone who's been there -- and obviously you're around your students at duquesne university, you give tours around the vatican, and you live in rome, as you have for so many years, about the way it feels here. it is so different in the united states. we talk about the problems in the church, and i'm wondering what you're feeling today and what your sense is, having been around rome since this announcement was made. >> i'm sitting here in front of st. peter's square. if you think about it, it's seen everything. it's seen the inaugurations of popes, papal funerals, protests, receptions, and today we're seeing something new. that's something that's very exciting for the young people in rome. as it just so happens, all the kids are out of school because of the italian election. so you have a huge number of
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italian young people coming to the square. but in the teaching that i'm involved with, we have all of our classes cancelled so people can be a part of history. some have felt a certain disconnect from an older pope, but part of the story is watching this revival, this history, as people are aware. not only are they witnessing history, but they're about to be part of it. >> we saw the cardinals standing. these are the cardinals who are going to be going into meetings starting on monday. they've also been, we are told, in some informal communications about the church and about the conclave and about the next pope. they have been talking obviously by phone and communicating by e-mail. we also know that, now that they are together, they have opportunities to sit next to each other, to have personal conversations, and begin what is going to be this process of electing a new pope. however, today really is a day, this morning is a day as we see the cheers and we're waiting to get a first glimpse of the popemobile.
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today is a day of listening to the final words of pope benedict as hope, but also for all of these hundreds of thousands of people who are gathered to say thank you to him. it is to interesting to me -- there he is, pope benedict, in one of the most famous vehicles in the world. as someone who had the occasion to see pope john paul ii several times, that the electricity in the crowd is something. while the vast majority of people in the crowd are catholics, they're not all catholics. some are not even believers. one of the things we saw extraordinarily in the final days of pope john paul and for the election of this pope, was the number of people who came to st. peter's square who said i'm
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atheist, i'min agnostic. i'm drawn by the history. i'm drawn by the tradition that there is a person in the world when is supposed to stand for the good things, for the power of this role. so there we see him in the popemobile making what, as we heard from ann thompson, will be two rounds. i know you've seen this before, father barron. it is a unique experience. >> it is that indeed. i always think of pope from popeye. he's the father. and you're right. i think it goes beyond the catholic church. you're looking at the most important figure in the world from a symbolic standpoint. >> george, give me your thoughts
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as you watch the pope make his final round in his popemobile. >> chris, i'm actually thinking about our time together here in rome eight years ago. i believe it was you who asked me how i felt seeing joseph ratzinger come out on the logia of st. peter's, who i had known at that point for some 17 years, how did i feel about him becoming pope? i said i felt desperately sorry for him because the job is, in one sense, an impossible one, but i was also glad for him because the world was finally going to see the joseph ratzinger i knew, not the cartoon of him that had been spread over the past 20 years. i think that's part of what's reflected in this crowd today. benedict xvi has been the greatest papal preacher in almost 1,400 years, since pope gregory the great.
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he's a marvelous catechist, a teacher of christian truth. he distills extraordinary learning into simple, elegant phrases that communicate with people all over the world. so there's a somewhat bittersweet sense this may be the last time the world gets to hear this remarkable personality lay out the truth of christian faith as he's been given to understand it, but i'm also having a sense of gratitude that we had eight years to learn from a master teacher, and i think the world's begun to recognize that that's exactly what he is. >> liz, there have been critics who have said he has not done well as an administrator, that there is chaos within the curia, the organization that runs the vatican. there are critics who say he is not as pastoral. the comparison is to -- kissing a baby. that's a picture they will keep
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for their life. i have rarely seen that, certainly on an occasion like this. but i don't think anyone has questioned his intellectual capacity, his writings. so as that plays into what we will hear from him today, let me get your thoughts on pope benedict, the intellectual, the writer, the leader in theology in the catholic church. >> the way i thought about benedict the past eight years. john paul ii got us excited, got us in the square, got us catholic, got us interested in our faith, lively in our faith. but benedict xvi is the teacher that makes you work hard. you have to look up the words in the dictionary. you have to do a little extra homework. but he's the teacher that, when you gives you a lesson, it takes root. you keep thinking this is the greatest, greatest class i've
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ever taken. i look at this day with a tremendously bittersweet feeling of i'm going to miss you so much, but at the same time wondering that that class has been wonderful. he's taught us a tremendous amount. and that what he has given us will continue to grow. >> george, give us your take on today. we're told he's not going to be diverting too much in what is normal in an audience. there will be bible passages, and then he will give what is essentially a christian message, a homily, as ann pointed out, in italian, and then he will give it in several other languages. what's your expectation? >> benedict xvi is a man of the bible. he's a brilliant expositor of the bible. the church is right in the middle of lent, the most serious pen tential season of the
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church's church's liturgical year. the pope has stayed on message. it's a time to think about what it means for all of us to walk the way of the cross, and i expect he'll stay with that message today. he's not a man who instinctively draws attention to himself. he wants people to focus on the truth of the gospel, the truth the church proclaims, and i think that master teacher attitude of which liz just spoke. the skill that, when he was a professor, would have people lining up outside the lecture hall at 8:00 in the morning to kibbutz his lectures, will be on public display for one last time. >> this is obviously an extraordinary moment in history. it is worth repeating time and again. this is not something we have
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ever seen in modern history. we have a pope who has made a decision that he is going to step down. he will be pope emeritus. and there is this opportunity for this final good-bye, this final appearance, a general audience one day before he steps down as leader of the catholic church. this traditional pope making what is a stunningly modern decision because of his health, because of his energy, he wants to lead the rest of his life in prayer. this is a church at a time when it needs vitality, that he cannot physically give to us. george, you spoke yesterday when we were talking about the idea that, even though i think initially there was a feeling that this was a great act of humility. he's kissing another child and yet another again. a remarkable and moving moment. some very happy parents.
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that there is a sense around rome maybe that's growing that maybe this isn't the best decision that he would be pope for life. >> chris, there's no simple answer to a problem posed by a pope at the end of his life with waning energies. we saw pope john paul ii give the last great priestly example of his life by, in a sense, inviting the whole world, also during lent that year, to enter with him into the mystery of suffering transformed by faith, and we saw the result of that and this extraordinary outpouring of people who doubled the size of the city of rome for his funeral. this is different. this is a man leaving office while still alive.
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there's no funeral to put a period on the end of the pontificate. we are in completely uncharted waters. we talk about this not having happened in 600 years or 700 years. in fact, under these circumstances, a man in reasonably good health with his faculties intact, has never done this before. so for a church that lives by tradition, lives by a sense of we've been here before, this is quite different indeed. no one really knows what the effects of this will be. i don't have the slightest doubt that for benedict xvi, this was a final act of self abasement, humility. he really didn't think he could give the church what it needed, and that should be honored. the results of this, given the utterly unprecedented character of it, are going to be a dramatic story not only until
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the next pope is selected but for months and perhaps years as well. >> i think, when you really put it in perspective, this is a church with over 2,000 years of history, and we are watching something that has never happened before. do you agree with george that it's impossible to predict what the impact of this decision will be on the church long term. >> i think it's impossible to predict the nuts and bolts of how this decision is going to play out historically. i do think the history of the church is we have had curveball situations before. imagine for a moment where the pope claimed the papal
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inviolability. so if you think of the papacy as a rich strand, it's going to play into another work of art which is our 2,000-year-old history. >> we saw an amazing smile from the pope just moments ago. two more children handed up to him, one by a cardinal. and we caught a glimpse of the college of cardinals. people who do not follow the vatican closely may not realize that all of the cardinals assembled there will not be voting members of the conclave. >> those over 80 will not vote. >> he's making the very short incline where he'll give a general audience. as you pointed out, usually there are a line of people who are invited to come and get a special blessing and kiss the
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ring of the pope. >> that won't happen today. i'm so struck by the pope kissing all those babies. that's very wonderful. the warmth of his attitude is wonderful. that's the papa quality of the pope that is on very vivid display. >> do you think, george, when we're looking at this pope -- and he was 78 when he was elected. he is now 85. and there is so much speculation about whether that will play into the election of the next pope. will it be a younger pope? will they look for someone who perhaps is older, knowing now he's not likely to need a long period of time where perhaps he is elderly or infirm, but that a precedent has been set here for him to step down. what are your thoughts? >> i think, chris, the church has been living rather well with
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elderly popes since the mid-1990s. yet i think -- and my instincts tell me and my conversations here tell me that there is a sense of a need in the church for fresh air, for a different kind of personality, for a younger man who is not going to be instantly ground down by the extraordinary demands of this office, for someone who can give the church a long period of service, which may not, it should be stressed, may not end in another abdication. >> george, let's listen in. >> sure. >> translator: in the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit.
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may the peace be with you. i give thanks to the lord, the father of all, jesus christ, and will continue to pray for you after we see the news of your faith of jesus christ and the charity you have towards all the saints because of the hope that is waiting for you in heaven. you have heard the news from the world of truth in the gospel that came to you. and just like all over the world, it bears fruit and develops. the same is among you from the
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day -- since the day you sent to and found out about the truth of god. >> translator: this is exactly the same thing as before which was just translated.
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>> and we see the face of pope benedict and the vatican guards. by the way, tomorrow when he steps down, we will see something that is sure to be very poignant, which is that castel gandolfo, the vatican guard, will leave because they are for the pope although he will continue to have security. this is a multinational crowd, it always is. anyone who has been an audience for the last eight years will tell you that there are many groups from around the world that sing in many different languages. on the several occasions i have
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been there, there is always a bavarian band in honor of the pope who is native to bavaria. and he is also a skilled linguist. although he is someone who will give his main address in italian, will then follow it with several different languages, and you will hear this main announcement. who are we listening to right now, george? >> this is one of the papal masters of ceremonies. they are reading that great hymn from the letter to the colossians in the new testament, which i take it will be the framework for the address of the pope here. as i said a few moments ago, once again with pope benedict xvi, the focus is on christ, not on him. >> and this stunning view of st. peter's. no matter how many times you go there or you see it, it opportunity cease to amaze you as one of the real beauties of the world and obviously so rife
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with symbolism, father. >> it's beautiful. i spent two long sojourns in rome, and every time we crossed st. peter's square we stopped. you never get tired of looking at it. it's so filled with richness. >> one of the things we'll be hearing, liz, in the coming days and weeks as the cardinals decide on the conclave and get together and meet to elect a new pope is what the role will be and the decision they will make in terms of his ability to eadvanta evangelize, his ability to travel the world, but there are also questions about his li linguistic skills. one of the questions is do we need to have a

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The Rachel Maddow Show
MSNBC February 27, 2013 1:00am-2:00am PST

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